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The Greek god of the sea, Poseidon-brother of the gods Zeus and Hades, and of the goddesses Hera, Demeter, and Hestia-was associated not just with the sea but also with horses.
It's difficult even for historians to track the myriad lovers and children of the Greek gods. Some estimates put the count at well over a hundred, with the lovers being mostly but not exclusively female. In some cases, ancient authorities differ, so the exact lineage and relationships remain open to debate. Nevertheless, several of the god's various consorts and offspring remain mythologically significant in their own right.
Amphitrite, His Consort
Placed somewhere between the Nereids and the Oceanids, Amphitrite-the daughter of Nereus and Doris-never obtained the fame she might have earned as Poseidon's consort. Vaguely personified as the sea or seawater, she became the mother of Triton (a merman) and possibly of a daughter, Rhodos.
Poseidon enjoyed the pleasures of the flesh, seeking romance with goddesses, humans, nymphs and other creatures. Not even physical form mattered to him: He could, and often did, transform himself or his lovers into animals so as to hide in plain sight.
- Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty
- Amymone, the "blameless Danaid" who became an ancestor of the founders of Mycenae
- Pelops, king of Pelepponesia and a founder of the Olympic Games
- Larissa, a nymph, whose three sons with Poseidon eventually ruled all of Thessaly
- Canace, a human woman who bore the god five children
- Alcyone, one of the Pleiades, who bore Poseidon several children
Poseidon, like many of the Greek gods, did not behave with perfect moral rectitude. In fact, many of the stories of Poseidon focus on rape. In the myths, he raped Medusa in the temple of Athena and Athena was so angry she turned Medusa ugly and her hair into snakes. In another story, he raped Caenis and after he fell in love with her, he granted her wish of transforming her into a male warrior named Caeneus. In yet another story, Poseidon pursued the goddess, Demeter. To escape, she turned herself into a mare-but he transformed into a stallion and cornered her.
Some of Poseidon's most notable children include:
- Charybdis, the sea monster who (with Scylla) threatened the Strait of Messina
- Theseus, the hero who served as the mythological founder of Athens
- Bellerophon, the hero who captured Pegasus and killed the Chimera
- Polyphemus, the one-eyed giant from The Odyssey
- Procrustes, the villain who owned an iron bed to which he made his guests fit by means of his hammer
Pegasus itself, the famed winged horse, sprung from Medusa's neck when Perseus delivered the fatal blow. Some legends suggest that Poseidon fathered Pegasus (Medusa's child), which would have made the horse half-brothers with his captor, Bellerophon.
Some legends even suggest that Poseidon sired the ram that bore the Golden Fleece!
- Hard, Robin. "The Routledge Handbook of Greek Mythology." London: Routledge, 2003. Print.
- Leeming, David. "The Oxford Companion to World Mythology." Oxford UK: Oxford University Press, 2005. Print.
- Smith, William, and G.E. Marindon, eds. "A Classical Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography, Mythology, and Geography." London: John Murray, 1904. Print.